New Horizons in Spam Appreciation

Some 100 spams have hit my client inbox over the last two weeks, a much faster pace than previously. Chances are, your servers have been flooded as well.

While most of my spam is of the usual variety (get rich, get thin, free lunch, or looky looky) I have noticed some disturbing trends which could make it impossible for even a well-made law to slow the flood.

There are some new trends I think law won’t have to halt. I’ve gotten spammy “article submissions,” advising people about and advocating spam, from an AOL address. I’ve also gotten fake “newsletters,” unsolicited, from real businessmen who seem to think that opt-out e-mail (which I pay for) is the same as opt-out paper mail (which they pay for). These folks will pay for their acts with their own credibility. Most will learn (the hard way) that spam doesn’t pay.

But I also received some prayers in my e-mail, spam that purports to contain a real address (near Orlando) and seems to come from real ministers. The subject line reads, “wine and beer,” which is misleading, but if someone wants to use spam to pray over us, can we stop them under our First Amendment?

Far more frightening (from a legal perspective) have been my first political spams, from the Academic Information Center of Serbia , a pro-Milosevic site. Political speech draws the broadest possible protection under the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution itself is a local ordinance. Yet spam can also do the same job as a virus, inundating target servers. If your intent is to provoke (rather than win agreement), spam may be a powerful weapon…and we are at War.

But what has your experience been? Are you getting more spam, different spam, or less spam? Can the law douse spam, or will spam destroy the Internet?

What do you think? Let’s talk about it.

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